Your career stretches out before you for 20 or 30 years, maybe more. You can move from job to job based on a whim, but you'll likely achieve more career satisfaction if your career isn't a random series of jobs. Instead, make your career a progression towards achieving specific goals. Use these tips to set realistic goals that will motivate you and drive you towards career success.
1. Know yourself. Before defining any career goals, take a good look at yourself. Your goals should be driven by the values that matter in your life. You'll have greater motivation and satisfaction from working towards goals that align with your values.
2. Consider how broader trends will impact your career. Changes in the industry and in the world will shape the opportunities available to you. You should be prepared to take additional training in order to take advantage of those opportunities. Seek advice from mentors or others with insight into the industry.
3. Don't try to do everything at once. Reviewing your values and how the industry is evolving may give you a long list of things you want to achieve. Take time to evaluate that list and determine priorities. You can make more than one change at a time, but don't try to do everything at once. You'll end up overwhelming yourself, become frustrated, and lose momentum. Instead, identify one or two small steps that are important and achievable goals right now.
4. Take action. No question doing the analysis and creating a plan is important. But the only way to make progress towards your goals is to take action. Block time in your schedule for achieving the steps you identified as priorities. Commit to working towards them. The positive consequences that come from achieving the steps will be a reward; make yourself accountable by imposing a penalty or negative consequence if you fail to act.
5. Revisit and revise your plan often. Don't get too attached to your plan, or even your goal. Your values and priorities may change; a new opportunity you hadn't considered may present itself at work. Periodically step back and make sure the career goals you created last year match up with what you want this year. Or maybe you had great success and achieved your goal. Now what are you going to do for the rest of your career? Rethink your career goals so you always have something to strive for.